These Stuffing Muffins are crazy good. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of stuffing. It’s often too plain, too soggy, it’s an extra carb that’s secondary to rolls and mashed potatoes so why even bother? Not to mention that it requires oven time right before serving which is precious real estate that I don’t have room for. But it’s one of those Thanksgiving staples that you can’t NOT make.
But for me, cooking has always been about not following the rules. Recipes after often guidelines, even baking (bakers will soon be arriving with pitchforks & torches but will stay for my Strawberry Bounce Cupcakes), so I knew there had to be a solution for what a FLOP stuffing normally is.
First of all, I didn’t want it to be predominantly a carbo-loaded dish. So reduced the amount of bread by half. I never think to buy bread ahead of time to have day-old bread so I decided to come up with an easy way to dry the bread out in the oven myself. I hate the weird herbs usually (who uses only one sprig of tarragon?) so I omitted them, and then mitigated the sogginess by baking them as individual muffins and topping them with freshly grated parmesan. Plus dishing them up as muffin greatly reduces the baking time so you can save oven space for the MEATS.
But trust me, these ones are DELISH. I’ve made these stuffing muffins the past 4 years and we NEVER have any leftover. There are a lot of ingredients involved, but once you get everything chopped and prepped, putting it all together is actually pretty easy.
1 loaf of crusty french baguette (diced medium)
8 oz of breakfast sausage
6 slices of thick-cut uncured pork belly (sliced thin) (or substitute thick-cut bacon)
1 carrot (peeled and diced small)
2 celery stalks (trimmed and diced small)
1 leek (trimmed and sliced thinly)
6 cloves of garlic (smashed and finely chopped)
1 medium yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 granny smith apples (cored, peeled and medium dice)
4 oz of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
8 oz of chicken stock (use canned broth if you don’t have this handy, I won’t tell anyone, Shhhh)
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Spread out the bread cubes in a single layer on a full baking sheet. Drizzle with butter, top with 1/4 cup of parmesan, generously S&P, and top with cayenne. Toss until each piece is fully coated. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway to make sure that they’re evenly toasted. Once they’re crispy, set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle one tsp of EVOO in a large skillet. Cook bacon on medium-high heat until crisp. Take out bacon and add it to the large mixing bowl with the bread and reserve the the fat in a separate bowl but leave in the browned bits in the pan. Drizzle in another tsp of EVOO in the same skillet, break apart and cook the sausage until they’re browned, about 6 minutes. Set aside in the same bowl, and leave in the fat and browned bits.
Add in garlic, onion and leeks into the skillet, lower the heat to medium and cook until they start to soften, 2 minutes. (Warning—Your kitchen is starting to smell incredible) Add in carrots, celery and apples. After about 2 minutes, add in the reserved bacon fat and S&P. Cook this whole mixture until everything is soft, about 7 minutes. Add cooked vegetable mixture into the large mixing bowl.
Add in two eggs and drizzle in the chicken stock. Gently toss until just combined and scoop into a 12-count muffin pan. Top with remaining cheese and a tiny pat of butter. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes until the top is browned.
Serve immediately. Makes 24 Stuffing Muffins.
*If you want to prep this recipe ahead, prep the stuffing in the mixing bowl and refrigerate the mixture for up to 12 hours. Scoop and bake off the muffins whenever you’re ready for them.